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Is your definition of style, suffocating you?

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Is your definition of style, suffocating you?

Penny Younger

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a thing with the clothes I wear.

I’ve always used what I wear to measure how good I am, or how worthy I am of love and adoration. All of the girls in my life that I put on pedestals, are there mostly because they’re always polished, stylish and look beautiful all the time. I’ve always made ‘stylish’ as something to aspire to and as something I will never be.

Lately, I’ve been noticing how I’m feeling when I wear certain things; things that from the outside, look ‘stylish’.

How do I feel when I put something on that someone I look up to, would wear?

What I’ve noticed is, for the most part, I feel like I’m wearing a mask. I feel like I’m trying to cover something up. “Maybe if I wear this, they will think I’m successful/beautiful.” This makes me feel stiff and really unaligned with who I am.

To you, clothes really might not mean much. But to me, they are as important as a good blow dry. If I’m wearing something with beautiful material that falls in the right way, I feel like I can conquer the world.

There are certain beautiful things in my wardrobe that make me feel so myself and so in my alignment; and others that, despite being beautiful, just make me feel like I’m trying to dress up as someone else.

The other day, I had a thought I didn’t quite recognise.

“Maybe, I don’t want to be stylish, if this is how it makes me feel.”

Maybe the constant pursuit of looking stylish, isn’t worth the amount of comparison it involves between how I look, and what other girls are wearing.

Maybe it isn’t worth constantly scrutinising over whether what I’m wearing will get the approval of others, and if people will look at me like I’m something special.

We all seek validation and approval from others; clothes is just how I go about it.

For you, it might be having a good job, getting good grades or buying the house with a good postcode.

For me, when I’m presented well, that’s how I know I might just be ‘good enough.’

However, at what cost are we willing to get the approval of others, assuming that what they value is the same as you – which – it probably won’t be.

So, while you’re busting your ass to keep the amazing job in hope others will approve, they’re actually looking at something completely different. And so the rat race of validation is actually pointless and all it does in the end, is make us tired.

My definition of style has to change. Because if something isn’t making me feel good, it sure as hell won’t attract the sort of love and validation I’m after.

I no longer want my self-worth to be determined by ‘whether so and so would like what I’m wearing’ or ‘whether she’s wearing something similar, therefore I know I’m doing something right.’

That ends up making me feel stiff, unaligned with who I am, and like I’m playing dress up as someone else.

Instead, I want the barometer for my own style, to be if my heart feels open when I’m wearing something.

I want to feel soft and feminine and open.

When I put something on, I want it to feel like I’m wearing it, not that it’s wearing me.

Being stylish doesn’t account for whether something actually represents us or who we are. Trends are really fun, but if we’re not careful we can end up in a constant pursuit for the next amazing thing, and never stopping to feel whether it actually aligns with who we are.

Style (when unconscious) simply accounts for who’s wearing it, who’d approve of it and potentially how many magazines it’s appeared in. It doesn’t account for how it makes you feel, or whether it opens you or closes you.

Now, instead of looking how the clothes look on a rack, I feel into my body.

I feel the material, I feel how it falls, and I feel if the cut is right.

Am I softening? Does my heart open a little wider? Does it make me feel feminine and does it represent who I am?

These are the questions I am now asking, and as a result I’ve probably culled 80% of my wardrobe in the last few months. Not because what I had ‘wasn’t good enough’ - but because what I had, should have been hanging in someone else’s closet.

Where are you hiding behind something, in hope for approval?

What’s in your life because other people’s opinions or expectations put it there?

What are you wearing because of who you think you should be, rather than who you actually are?

I am better at life when I feel open, fluid, relaxed and feminine; so even though something in the window might look ‘stylish’ or ‘beautiful’, sometimes the mannequin is better off wearing it, instead of me feeling like the mannequin when I buy it; a little stiff and lifeless.

We all want beautiful things; beautiful clothes, beautiful hair, or a beautiful view from our home; but be careful that you are in the pursuit of those things because of how they open you, instead of looking good from the outside, but having them make you feel stiff, unaligned and inauthentic.